Monitoring an oil tank with a Raspberry Pi

Now that we have moved to the farm, we are off the grid enough that natural gas is not an option. That leaves us with propane and heating oil. We could use solar or electic heat of some sort, but haven't done so. The boiler is only about three years old.

The good part is that we can order oil from any one with an oil truck. There appears to be a fair amount of competition, and they will drive a distance to deliver to our 425 gallon tank.

When we moved in, I picked a company, and they started delivering. Their web prices were competitive. Then I noticed on one delivery that they were charging me about $1.90 when oil was about $1.45. I mentioned this to the delivery guy, and he said we were on the premium program. Uh oh.

The premium program means they decide when to deliver, and will fix the furnace in a hurry should it die. I was paying a couple hundred dollars a month for this service. I figured I could watch the tank myself, and bribe someone $1000 to come fix the furnace in a furry, and still save a bundle.

I looked up various tank sensors, maybe using WiFi. They are expensive, and a pain to get right. So I went the hacking route:

So the Raspberry Pi has the RPi video camera, WiFi, and a little USB LED light shining on the furnace gauge, (I wish I could switch it on and off, but it isn't worth the time to figure it out.) A program fetches the image every hour:

And, for fun, a movie.